Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve 2009

It's New Year's Eve, and we aren't planning any outings this year. We hardly ever go anywhere for New Year's Eve. People who know me well also know that I don't stay up too late. I do always try to see the clock strike midnight on New Year's Eve. It really has nothing to do with me, but my kids think it is special so I do my best for them. We also partake of communion as a family almost every New Year's Eve. I had a turkey in the basement freezer that I purchased on sale. I have had it thawing because I knew I wanted to have Michael smoke it on the smoker for our dinner. Smoking things at home is even better than going to a restaurant. We have an old apple tree that really needs to be cut down to the ground. Instead, we let it keep growing in order to provide wood for our smoking needs.
We will spend the evening playing card games, counting our blessings, and maybe working on our kids' table manners. From the look of the picture, they need some help to remember that they should not reach over other people's plates! I was going to purchase a new puzzle for this evening, but my husband caused me to change my mind. On Christmas Eve, we all started a puzzle. Oldest son's girlfriend worked long and hard. All together we worked on it for a couple of hours. (I use the word "we" rather affectionately because I really didn't do much. Puzzles don't really interest me). It was a 1,000 piece puzzle. Bedtime came and all the good people in the family went to bed so we would feel good on Christmas morning. My alarm went off at 6:00 a.m. and I thought Michael was in bed with me. I soon discovered it was the English Mastiff. I think Michael stuck her in bed with me to give me the illusion that he had come to bed. Instead I found him downstairs putting the last piece of puzzle into its place. I started asking questions. Come to find out Mr. Addictive Personality couldn't go to bed knowing there was a puzzle downstairs. He had spent the whole night finishing it. He took a picture of it and sent it to oldest son's girlfriend with a Merry Christmas greeting. He then took it back apart for our kids to work later. He was a bit tired on Christmas day, but he managed to stay awake. That is the reason that we didn't get another puzzle!
Hope you have a wonderful New Year's Eve celebration!!! If you would like, you can read more about our family's communion time here and our New Year's Eve celebration last year!! If you still want to know more about my resolutions or the lack there of, feel free to go here
grace and peace,

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


I had an early start to my day, and I realized just how much I miss getting up while it is still dark outside. In the winter, my biggest reason for staying in bed is that it is cold in our house. I would rather stay under my nice warm, snugly covers than brave the cold that faces me as soon as I open my bedroom door. Our heat pump is old and tired, and if that isn't bad enough, it is too small for my size of brood. Our fireplace is nice once a good hot bed of coals has been established. That takes almost all day if I am the one in charge of it! I have learned to save my dryer lint and spent candles to use as my back up weapons when starting a fire. While I actually have never started a fire with anything, these items have gotten me closest to my goal. When my children were all young, I cherished the wee hours of the morning. They were the only ones that I would get by myself until bedtime, and I wanted to make the most out of those precious minutes. Now that my kids are older, I don't have the same issues any more. There are plenty of opportunities in my day to slip away by myself, but rarely do I feel the need to do that. The dynamics of a family change with each year that passes. I enjoyed when my kids were all little, but I find that I am also enjoying the time now that they are bigger too. I have learned over the years that I can either fight the changes that come (and they WILL come) or I can embrace them with grace and style. That is the one I usually try to go with, and it has worked thus far for me. I have my moments. I don't like change any more than the next person, but there are some things that I just don't have any control my babies growing up into men! "Ready or not here I come" has often been the chant of change in my life. I thought for certain just a few short months ago that we would be moving from this farm for a new job for my husband. It looked as if it would be a done deal. Then the so called done deal didn't happen, and I was left with a new change to embrace. I wonder what the new year will hold for us.

My last sleeping moment this morning came with a dream. Father God was holding out His hand to me. He was taller than me, and I would have to reach up just a little to get His hand. Although I don't remember seeing His face, I do remember seeing Him smile. I was instantly reminded of my earthly dad who held my hand often, and I quickly reached up and grabbed His hand. I had no idea where we were going, but I knew it would be alright.

grace and peace,

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Recipe Link for Black Tie Chocolate Mousse Cake

I promised you that if the copycat version of the Black Tie Chocolate Mousse Cake was as good as Olive Garden's then I would post the recipe. Instead, I will post the link for the recipe at the blog I found it. I am looking forward to spending some more time on this woman's blog. I know the Black Tie Chocolate Mousse Cake was incredible so I bet she has some other wonderful things as well! Just as a side note, in the Mousse Cake I used all Philadelphia Creme Cheese. Next time I will go to the trouble of searching high and low for some marscapone cheese. I just didn't have the time to go on a marscapone cheese search right at the holidays. I think it would be beyond believable if you used the marscapone!!! Also note that this cake is expensive to make. I had enough mini chocolate chips and white chocolate chips left for another cake. I put them in freezer bags and froze them until I make this cake again. I have a sneaky feeling that this will be husband's chosen birthday cake for this year. Yes, it was that good!!!!
Black Tie Chocolate Mousse Cake

grace and peace,

Monday, December 28, 2009

Monday Morning Thoughts

Christmas is finished although the tree is still up in our home. I ALWAYS get the tree out of the house first thing December 26th. A few years ago, the kids asked if I would care to leave it up for the week after Christmas. I reluctantly agreed to their request. (As a side note, I REFUSE to have the tree up on New Year's Day. Something about that is just all wrong in my way of thinking. So we put all the holiday decorations away on New Year's Eve morning. That way our living room gets a good old fashion cleaning and is all set for the new year). For some, this part of the holiday season can seem a bit blah or even sad. I understand that. I used to feel the same way. I now concentrate on all the things that lay ahead, and now I look forward to the upcoming year. I think that it helps that we spend the entire month of December celebrating the Christmas season. In just a few short days, I will be welcoming the return of routines and schedules to help keep us on tract. I am almost there, but not quite. I am also a bit tired of cooking. I LOVE all the holiday cooking and baking and eating. However, I have done enough of all of the above and it is time to focus on something maybe cleaning and walking! So this Monday morning, I will be starting a tread mill program that is suppose to have major results. (We will see. I am not holding my breath over here)! My biggest challenge is being consistent. I do real well for a few days, and then something else always comes up and I drop the ball. I am hoping to conquer that issue in my life over the next few months. I found myself spontanously planning my spring garden yesterday. After I had thought about it for awhile, I realized that I was shocked to be looking forward to a new garden year. I was so tired of the garden last year that I didn't even know if I wanted to have a garden this year! I guess a few months of rest has changed my outlook a bit. Hope y'all enjoy the last bit of this year, and are looking forward to what is ahead!

grace and peace,

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Our New Family Picture, (Minus the Parents)

I am jealous of all the people that take wonderful family pictures. This was the best I could come up with. It was an impromptu picture moment. My kids don't like to gather in a group and have their picture made. Why is that? Our second son doesn't want to be blog fodder so he runs any time I have a camera. Oh well, I still catch him with my zoom lens! Here is our new 2009 kid Christmas picture. I hope to do better in 2010! I might even ask for a family picture for my birthday...maybe I can guilt them into doing what I want!
grace and peace,

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

They shall call His name Immanuel, which means 'God with us'.
Matthew 1:23

Baking Pictures and a Recipe for Oreo Ice Cream Dessert Cake

These types of desserts are the things I think of when I think of homemade. They take some time, and they are always wonderful. The above picture is a Black Tie Mousse Cake. My husband ate this at Olive Garden when out of town on business. He called to tell me it was the best dessert he had ever eaten. Well, that didn't sit too well with me so I knew I had to recreate it. If it is really as good as Olive Garden's, then I will pass the recipe on to you.
This is our traditional coconut cake. This cake is a taste of my childhood. It was served at all of our birthday celebrations. (Robbie, did Mom ever make a cake that wasn't a coconut cake for our birthday)? My mom made her cakes in a 9 x 13 cake pan, but on Christmas my grandmother also made this cake. She made it as a layer cake, and I fell in love with it. I loved the icing in between the layers. It was also very beautiful to me. As a child it reminded me of a huge snowball. My grandmother made this cake for my Dad's birthday which was on Christmas day. After her death, I started making his birthday cake. After I was married and moved away, I would still make this cake for his birthday. It was the first cake that I ever tried to bake in layers. I am still not real good at baking beautiful layer cakes. Often times, they look as if they have been through an earthquake! After my dad died four years ago, I quit making this cake. It made me cry and it hurt my heart. Last year, I made it again. I called Hope into the kitchen and gave her a big spoonful of the icing. I told her to take a big bite, and she would be tasting my childhood. She smiled and we laughed. It was good to bake my old favorite cake again without crying.

But this cake...this cake isn't one I would call homemade. After all, it is just a bunch of store bought ingredients thrown together. This cake is what I am known for in these parts. This cake is the one that has teenagers that don't belong to me rummaging through my freezers looking for it. This is the cake that has my sister in law threatening small children if they eat the last piece. (You know that's true, Kelly)! This cake has my same sister in law telling lies to the small children about the cake being gone after she has tucked it in the bowels of the basement freezer so she can enjoy it for breakfast the next day! What she forgets is the teenagers live in the basement, and they too rummage through the basement freezer looking for treasures!!! This cake is the one that our second born son's girlfriend asked me to make her as her birthday gift!!! That is how good this cake is, but it isn't homemade. Hope you enjoy it as much as my crowd does!!
Oreo Ice Cream Dessert Cake
Take a pack of oreo cookies and crush them in a food processor. Add a half stick of melted butter and mix again. Pour the crumbs into a 9 x 13 cake pan. Spread a carton of good vanilla ice cream on top. We like Breyer's and I let it soften on the counter to make it spread easier. Pour a bag of Heath Toffee chips on top. Freeze until needed. To serve: Cut individual pieces and top with hot fudge topping, whip cream and a cherry! It is that easy and that good. Another plus is it can be made several days ahead of time if you can keep the teenagers from finding it!
grace and peace,

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Baking

My daughter and I have spent the day baking for our Christmas holiday. We have made a Strawberry Cake Roll, Black Tie Chocolate Mousse cake, and a Coconut Cake. The house is clean and ready for the holiday. I wasn't planing on doing anything for Christmas eve. It was going to be a non cooking day. However, our son's girlfriend has asked to come to our house instead of having him take her out to a restaurant. It touched my heart that she would rather be here with our family than going out to dinner so I decided we would do a big family dinner after all. I am having a ball this Christmas season!!!

grace and peace,

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Winter on the Farm

The farm sits quiet and still during the winter months. There aren't many chores to be done except for feeding and watering and maintaining. There is also plenty of dreaming and planning.
Missy's favorite time of the year is winter, and her favorite thing to do is to play in the snow with the kids. She has been rather naughty lately. We weren't for sure what exactly had gotten into her, but after a morning of playing in the snow she is much better now. I think she had too much energy stored up for her and our own good!

The two farmers taking a break from chores and sledding. Life is good!
grace and peace,

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Winter Wonderland

Look at the beautiful gift the Lord gave to us.
The winter time causes me to "Be still and know that He is God."

grace and peace,

Friday, December 18, 2009

Just a Few Uses of an English Mastiff

I came in the living room the other evening and found our oldest son studying for finals. Apparently Missy was either a coffee table or a foot stool. I'll let you be the judge of that!
Later that evening I came back into the living room. This time she and the older son were still "studying" for finals. Jacob decided to use her back end as a pillow so he could warm his feet by the fire. Missy laid there forever that evening enjoying all the attention given to her by the boys. See...every body needs an English Mastiff. They take the place of a coffee table and pillows!
grace and peace,

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Budgeting Christmas

NOTE: This picture was taken 3 years ago. I guess we need to have another family Christmas picture taken soon!!!

Christmas is about so much more than spending money and buying gifts. However, if we are honest most kids REALLY like the gift part of the holiday. My kids are no exceptions. They like getting gifts. We have always budgeted the holidays, but this year we had to be very mindful of the amount of money being spent for Christmas. Here are some ideas of things we did this year to make the money go farther while still blessing our kids with Christmas gifts:

1. In times past we bought a nice gift as a combined gift for all the kids. Several years ago, Michael bought our kids a Playstation 3. It was for all the kids and it was the big gift of the year. This year we couldn't do something like that so we decided to add to what the kids already had. We bought one child a new game for the Playstation 3. We purchased a new controller for another child. This was a way to spice up something nice that they already had. Our youngest child loves Thomas the Train. We have spent several years collecting the wooden train pieces. This year we were able to find a train table on sale. Since he already had the trains, we could buy the train table without having to spend a lot of money for the trains. He will be thrilled, and it stretched our dollars! My mom bought our daughter an American Girl doll. We bought a few things to go with it. I just added to a nice gift purchased by my mom. Hope will be thrilled. One of my kids adore puzzles. I bought him a nice puzzle that we will all enjoy together. For stockings, I bought a large pack of candy to share between the 5 kids. I also knew that they would need gloves for the cold weather. I decided that those would make a nice stocking stuffer. My kids love gum so I purchased several large packs of gum to stuff in the stockings.

2. Michael and I have never exchanged Christmas gifts. When we were first married, we just didn't have the money. We scraped every penny together to buy gas to travel to Ky to see our family. This is something that we resolved years ago, and even when money wasn't as big of a factor we still haven't changed our plan. It works for us, but for others it might not go over so well. Talk with your spouse and make sure you are both on the same page.

3. I have one child that loves to go to the mall and shop. I could have taken money that my mom sends for his Christmas and purchase clothes for him. Instead, I give him the money as a gift from her on Christmas, and he can go to the mall the day after Christmas. He gets more bang for his buck that way. He also enjoys the craziness of the mall the day after Christmas! In times past, I have purchased mall gift cards to be given as gifts. That way the person receiving it could go and get the great deals.

4. One thing to keep in mind is that just because something is homemade doesn't mean it is cheap. Usually I put together candy baskets with lots of homemade candies and goodies to give as gifts for people outside of our home. This can get very costly and do some major damage to the grocery budget. This year I am going to deviate a bit. I am still going to put together baskets to share, but instead I am going to make bread baskets. It is much cheaper to bake homemade bread than expensive homemade candies so I will still be keeping my grocery budget in mind. I can also tuck in a jar of homemade jam or honey butter. I still have several loaves of Amish Friendship Bread left in my freezer from Thanksgiving. I will thaw these and include them in my bread baskets. Neighbors and friends always love homemade bread. Most people don't get to indulge in a warm loaf of homemade bread very often.

5. This year Matthew has a girlfriend that has become a stable fixture in our family. We wanted to do something nice for her for Christmas without spending a lot of money. I considered buying her a gift card to the mall, but that just wasn't what I wanted to give to her. It was too generic. I wanted something special. For the last 6 months, she has told me over and over that she wants me to teach her to cook. If she really likes something on the table, she will ask me if I will teach her to make it. I bought her a small journal type cookbook. I wrote a few of the recipes for her favorite dishes. I included a note that said that we will spend the next few years together filling her book and teaching her to cook. It was a gift from my heart sharing the treasures of our family with her. She will be pleased.

6. The lady that taught me to bake bread was always creative about gift giving. She knew I wanted to learn to bake bread so one day she showed up at my house with a gift. It was a loaf of homemade bread, 2 bread pans, and a few of her favorite recipes. She spent the next few hours teaching me to make bread. I was thrilled. Over the years, she still sends me bread pans and bread recipes because she knows that I use them. In fact, I have never bought a bread pan for myself. She has given me all the ones I have used these last 22 years! She is also a famous maker of muffins. She will bake a batch of muffins and place them in a new muffin tin. She will wrap the muffin tin and muffins with ribbon. She will include some of her yummy recipes and give those as gifts. Let's just say we ALL love to get gifts from her!

7. My biggest gift giving challenge involves the older people of our family. What do you give somebody that already has everything? I choose to give them a gift card for a nice meal at a restaurant that they both enjoy. This is what I am doing this year for Michael's mom and husband. It didn't cost me a lot of money, but they will enjoy it nonetheless. If we have more to spend, I can choose a really nice restaurant and maybe also include 2 tickets to the movies. If we are having to watch our money more carefully, then I can choose a less expensive restaurant and forget the movie tickets!

8. Christmas was my dad's birthday. I wanted to acknowledge his special day, but it was always hard to come up with extra money. When I was first married, he told me a story that he had heard on Paul Harvey. It was about a little girl that gave her Daddy a beautiful bag for Christmas. When he opened it up, it was empty. He told his daughter that she shouldn't give empty bags for gifts. She looked at him with big eyes and said, "Daddy, that bag isn't empty. It is full of my love for you." It meant enough to my own father to share the story with me so I started including that in my gift giving to him. I wanted the gift to be special so I started buying the prettiest gift bag I could find. Then I always bought a package of candy kisses and candy hugs to place in the gift bag. I gave him this gift each year. It was my way of showing him how much he meant to me, and it cost me less than $10.

9. We do not exchange gifts with our extended family. We stopped this tradition several years ago. This has trimmed our gift giving list down a lot. If I needed to do something special for one of them, I would put together a game or movie basket. In the pretty basket, I would put a new game or movie. I would include homemade hot chocolate mix, homemade caramel popcorn, and a few other treats.
These are just a few ways that we have handled the expense of Christmas. As much as we like to say we are going to enjoy a stress free holiday season, the truth is spending money can be stressful especially if we just don't have it in the budget. By being creative and spending some time, we can handle most of the extras that come along with the Christmas season. I just wish I could get myself together enough throughout the year to start Christmas shopping in the spring in order to space out the spending. For 22 years now, I have said that I am going to do that. For 22 years now, I have never been able to accomplish this mostly due to lack of planning and motivation. Maybe next year????!!!!
grace and peace,

Enjoying the Bounty of the Farm

When I first heard that Michael would be losing his job my first thought was "Did I put enough food away to sustain us?" I knew in my heart of hearts that I didn't. If it had been the previous year, we could have made it much better. I stored so much food up the previous year that I didn't feel the need to do as much last summer. However, I have been pleasantly surprised at just how much had been tucked away into beautiful jars. Our grocery budget has been cut drastically, but we have eaten fine just the same. I have adjusted our menus around what we have in the freezer and on the pantry shelves. For the most part, we are eating good old fashion country fare. If this food had not been squirreled away, our savings would have been depleted much quicker. I am so thankful for the lifestyle that we have chosen to live. It is great in good times, but it is even better when rough patches come our way. Over the last few years, I have also learned to shop sales and stash the extras away for later use. It has been nice to see so many extras tucked here and there. Michael is working again although we will still have to watch our budget very carefully. I am so thankful for the knowledge of knowing how to save money in the kitchen. I also know when to splurge on a special meal when need be. Tonight is a good example. We are celebrating our son's 13th birthday. He wanted fajitas and an Oreo Ice Cream Cake. I knew that was his desire in time to watch the sales at our local store. I got the shrimp for half price! When money gets tight, one of the first things that I quit buying is deli meat. Instead I will buy a whole turkey or chicken or ham when they are on sale. I am able to make our own sandwich meat much cheaper that way. I am also left with the extra meat to use in other dishes as well. I love having a ham bone available to make a pot of beans or soup! Yes, it does take some time and planning, but it is a great way to save money when you are feeding a large family. If I had known this summer that Michael would be without a job, I would have made a fall garden a huge priority. It would have allowed us to vary our meals more. I have learned a few farm lessons over the past few months. One of those is not to get lazy because you just don't know what tomorrow is going to bring. Truth be told, I was tired of the garden and I just didn't want to mess with a fall garden after all. I figured it wouldn't be that big of a deal any way. I wish I had mustered up the desire to get out there and make it work. I bet I won't let that happen again next year!

grace and peace,


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Enjoying the Season

The holidays are coming together nicely around here. We are keeping it simple and family oriented. I like that. We always do that for Christmas, but this year we are forced due to the budget. The nice thing for us is that most of our kids like the same thing so we can buy a gift for one child that all the other kids enjoy too. It gives us more bang for our buck that way. It has also created a heart of sharing with our kids. I never hear my kids say, "Hey, that's mine. You can't use it"!

Almost all of my Christmas shopping has been completed. Later this week I will be baking and assembling bread baskets to give to a few people. I have a few loaves of bread still tucked in the freezer to share as well. We don't do just one major holiday baking spree. Instead, we do something special every few days in the kitchen. We can enjoy holiday goodies throughout the month of December, and it gives me special time to enjoy with my kids. It is truly one of our cherished holiday memories for both me and the kids. One that I hope to continue with my grand kids some day.

grace and peace,

By the way, I had several people ask me to add our "Dinner Menu" back on the right side. I didn't think people really cared about what we ate, but I had one person tell me that it helps her have ideas for making meals at her home.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Food for Thought

"The real things haven't changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong."
Laura Ingalls Wilder

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hey Baby, It's Cold Outside

Jacob walked out the door this morning with a loud squeal. It is cold outside, and I am not for sure we are ready for it. I love to look at the beauty of winter, but I don't enjoy the temperature. I am not especially thrilled with doing outside chores in the winter either. Michael has been gone out of town this whole week. He will be arriving home today. I have missed him, and I have missed his fires. He can have a fire in a matter of minutes. It can take me days to get a fire started! We have been sharing quiet evenings watching Christmas movies these past few nights. I like the slower pace of this season. We have worked hard to slow things down during the Christmas season. We don't go to a lot of parties or extra activities. We don't stress over buying the perfect gifts. We serve the same Christmas dinner menu every year so we don't panic about the holiday meal preparation. We just enjoy the season and we enjoy our family. I guess we do enjoy winter in an odd sort of way. We spent so many years in Florida and we so missed the change of seasons. I have always loved the coziness of winter time. It is a time for every thing to slow down and rest. It is also a planning time for me. I think about the things I want to do next growing season on the farm or in the garden. We have time to sit and talk about the upcoming changes. We have time to plan them out so that we can execute the plans come spring. Yes, winter has its place so for now I will enjoy it! Hurry home Baby, I need a fire!!!!

grace and peace,

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Odd Farm Moments

Yes, that is our kids' trampoline in our neighbor's field being used as a water trough. The wind blew last night and blew. We also lost part of our barn roof, but we were thankful that we didn't lose anything else.

This one is my personal favorite. The hen watching me grill chicken for dinner. I had to admit I wished I was grilling beef or something besides chicken!
grace and peace,

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Just a Thought

"Those who never sink into this peace of nature

lose a tremendous well of strength, for there is something healing and life giving

in the mere atmosphere surrounding

a country house." Eleanor Roosevelt
grace and peace,

Monday, December 07, 2009

Confession: We are Failures at Raising Chickens

I love chickens. I think they are one of the greatest farm animals on the planet. They are relaxing to watch, and they are great bug eaters. I love their eggs, and most anybody can raise chickens. Well, that is what was said in the "Hobby Farmers" magazine)! We used to be able to raise chickens, and then we moved to this farm. That was the end of our chicken has all been down hill from here. In the past, we have always been able to free range chickens. Not here, there were just too many problems for us and the chickens. We bought a very expensive poultry netting to keep the chickens contained. It worked great because they still were able to free range, but we could keep them protected from predators. We had our issues with our poultry netting. First, it took an army to move it in order for our chickens to enjoy fresh grass. During our drought, it was almost impossible to move it because we couldn't get the poles stuck in the ground. Then we had wind issues which nearly destroyed our expensive poultry netting. Michael decided to build a chicken coop, and allow them to free range during the day and be locked up at night. This is what happened to our last batch of chickens...all 25 of them. We put them back in their coop and something crawled in at the roof and killed them all. We still don't know what the something was. We only have two surviving chickens. They were the naughty chickens who wouldn't go into the coop. I guess they were really the smart chickens of the bunch! In the last year, we have lost over 40 chickens to a predator of some sort. Of course, the predator waited until I had spent time and money getting the chickens close to maturity. I was already counting the days until the first eggs would arrive with this last bunch of chickens. We were close...very close to having fresh eggs once again, and then wham, bam, all the little chickens were dead. I am wanting to try again. Maybe just one more time. This time I think I will just let them live in Michael's shop!!!!

grace and peace,

Saturday, December 05, 2009

A Perfect Saturday

Yesterday our family gathered together, ate appetizers, decorated the Christmas tree, and then decorated cookies. It was a ruckus of a good time, and I was still a bit tired today. We woke this morning to trees all adorned in their finest white lace. It snowed about an inch and it was beautiful. Once again, my husband built a roaring fire for me in the living room. He gathered the troops together in the basement to watch ball games. I was left to myself and I did something I hadn't done in a very long time. I watched a chick flick on the computer. I drank hot coffee and ate sugar cookies. I enjoyed the twinkling lights on the Christmas tree and the dancing flames in the fireplace. My husband was happy along with our children. I was able to relax completely and just enjoy my home and Christmas decorations! I love when we all gather together, but I also treasure those few moments of alone time as well.

grace and peace,

Friday, December 04, 2009

Life Thoughts

Sometimes life seems as if we are living the Navy motto of "Hurry Up and Wait"! I remember being a young Navy wife that would jump through many hoops only to wait another three hours for the Navy to get it together! Early on in my husband's Navy career, I would fuss and fume and grump and gripe. It made me downright mad. Then one day it dawned on me that my being angry wasn't changing anything. With time, I learned to mellow out and learned a new Navy motto: "Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome". This motto fit me much better, and I still do my best to live by it.

Life isn't always easy. There are ups and downs. (I am sure you didn't need me to tell you that)! What brings me joy during the rough moments? I am learning to count my blessings instead of my troubles. I keep a gratitude journal filled with thoughts and scriptures. I pray. I often times will find a child and give him or her a hug. If a child is unavailable, I look for an animal. The English Mastiff is always willing to share some love! I keep good friends. Walks on our farm almost always provide me with time to think and remind me what is really important in life. My husband is a rock in my life and we share everything together. These are just some of my favorite ways to help make "lemons" into some "lemon aide"!

grace and peace,

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Christmas Thoughts

I was reading this blog the other day, and it caught my attention. I thought what a great idea of sharing what she isn't doing for Christmas. I thought I would share what I am not doing AND what I am doing this year for the Christmas holiday. First of all, in our home we celebrate the whole season of Christmas. I try my best to do fun activities throughout the season to make memories for the entire month of December. They may not be extravagant, but we have fun nonetheless. For example, my husband will be gone until bedtime tonight so he will be missing the supper meal. I decided we would all make waffles together and eat dinner listening to Christmas carols by the fireplace. While that doesn't seem like much, it is fun to change up the routine and just relax together. The kids always enjoy it when we do things like this. What won't I be doing this year? That is simple...I won't be stressing over things and gifts. It will be a low key Christmas for us this year, and I like that. We almost always have a low key Christmas so our kids enjoy things being simple. They don't expect extravagant so they aren't disappointed! How about you? What things will you be NOT being doing this year, and what things WILL you do?

grace and peace,

By the way, I have been playing around with my blog the last few days. I should get it fixed in a few days. I am trying to learn some different things so please be patient with me!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas Traditions

Last year's tree was beautiful. We always put our tree up as a know...together...all 7 of us. For three weeks, my son's girlfriend has told me how excited she was about putting up her Christmas tree. Every time I saw her she would remind me that it was almost time to put up her tree. The tradition at her house was to celebrate Thanksgiving and then in the evening put up the tree. The day after Thanksgiving I asked her how she enjoyed her tree trimming. She smiled just a little and said that her mom was too tired to put up the tree on Thanksgiving. Instead her mom did it while she was away at work. I could see the sadness in her eyes. I promised her that she could be part of our tree trimming experience this year. She smiled a huge smile and said she would really like that. We were going to put up our tree this past Sunday, but decided that we would all be free to do it Friday evening. We always have fun during tree trimming. Nothing is perfect, but it is fun none the less. This year I decided to add a little extra fun. I am going to make appetizers and bake sugar cookies. We always decorate sugar cookies together for Christmas, and we are going to do that on Friday after the tree is decorated. The kids are all already looking forward to the fun that will be shared on Friday. I am sure that our tree won't be perfect, but that has never mattered before so it won't matter again. What matters to me are the traditions of family that we build each and every a know, all seven (and sometimes 8) of us!!!

grace and peace,

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving Weekend Coming to a Close

The weekend with family is almost finished. We have eaten mass amounts of food, played games, watched football, and visited. It was a fun family time. I am ready to get back to the normal routine of every day life. I find that I flourish when routines are in place. It just feels right for me, and I operate much better that way. The Christmas season is upon us. I am looking forward to listening to Christmas carols and putting up Christmas decorations. I am ready to focus some time on my kids once again. Thanksgiving is about extended family. Christmas time is for my kids. I love making special memories with my children during the Christmas season. I am looking forward to sharing these memories with you over the next few weeks.

grace and peace,

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Thankful Heart

My heart is full of Thanksgiving to my Lord. I am so thankful for who He is in my life, and the blessings that He has given to me. Hope y'all have a wonderful Thanksgiving day!

grace and peace,

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Few Pictures As Promised

I know it is well past 6:00 p.m., but I started writing this post around 4:00 this afternoon. Before I could get it finished, our company came. Michael had just finished clearing the tools out of the kitchen right before they arrived. Here is a picture standing in our kitchen looking into our living room. As you can see, we did not finish the dry wall or the painting.
Here is the view of our kitchen. The floor is not finished and the crown molding hasn't been put in place either.

Michael still needs to build the cabinet doors. We knew this wouldn't be completed until after Thanksgiving.

Here is the view from our front door. Please excuse the sunshine. I was pressed for time to get this post completed. Although we didn't make all of our goals, Michael did get the majority of the kitchen finished. I was really wanting all the trim work completed because that makes it look so much nicer. He still has about 2 more days of work in order to finish it not counting the floor. But for now, we are relaxing and enjoying our holiday season.
grace and peace,

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Words of Wisdom

It is really a bad idea to have a kitchen remodel deadline to be the day before Thanksgiving! This is what my house has looked liked all day. Do you have any idea how hard it has been to cook while Michael and others have been using the counter tops as a step stool? We have ALL been hitting it hard today. We even had Joshua's girlfriend helping. In between making fudge, Chocolate Torte, and potato salad, I have been putting the finish on the cabinets and painting trim. Check back tomorrow before 6:00 p.m. to see the final pictures. I am hoping we can get it all done before everybody arrives for dinner tomorrow evening!!!
grace and peace,

Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday Madness

There isn't much time today for a proper post. My husband has me busy, busy, busy. I only got a chance to sneak on here while he is in the shop making a drawer front. I have been given a paint brush, polyurethane, and some freshly built cabinets. Oh, I almost forgot the best part...sandpaper. That has been my morning chore. Next on the list of things to have me do is to prime the walls in the kitchen. I am trying every way in the world to figure out how to get out of that one. I don't like to paint, but I hate priming. At least with paint, you get to see the pretty new color come alive. We are on the countdown to get the kitchen done and almost put back together before my family arrives on Weds. for Thanksgiving. As soon as we make our goal, I will be sure to post pictures so you too can see what we have accomplished!

grace and peace,

Friday, November 20, 2009

List Making and a Quick Dinner Recipe

I am starting to cross off several things on my list of things to do. It feels good to know that I am on track. I also am thrilled to know that things are getting accomplished slowly but surely. I am not killing myself on any one day, but making nice progress each and every day. I should practice this lifestyle other than just for holidays!

When things are busy, we all need a quick dinner meal that is still good. Here is one that I would like to share with you. Hope you enjoy!

Chicken Casserole

cooked shredded chicken enough to fill up a 9x13 pan (I use about 3 to 4 cooked breasts)
1 can of chicken broth
1 can of creme of chicken soup
Sauteed celery and onions (I use about a half of cup of mom uses decide)

Mix all ingredients together. Pour in a 9x13 casserole dish. Crumble a sleeve of Ritz crackers on top. Melt a stick of butter and pour it over the crackers. Bake for about 30 minutes or until bubbly in a 350 degree oven.

I usually serve this with sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and green beans. If I really want to make everybody happy, I will also make a batch of yeast rolls!

grace and peace,

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Farm Updates

I haven't had much to say about the farm lately because it just seems kind of small to me. However, I have been enjoying having all 5 cows back home on our property. Lizzy is needing to be bred again. Since we don't have a bull, we will have to have her A.I. We will wait until we know for sure what we are doing about moving before we go to the trouble of that.
This is the next cow that will be in the freezer. She is the granddaughter to the cow in the above picture. She is half angus and half scottish highland. She is the product of a bad fence, a naughty cow, and a neighbor's bull. It works for us. We were able to get two calves without owning a bull!
Our chickens are growing nicely. We have still had some predator issues which is extremely frustrating to me. We lock the chickens up in the coop every night. It is the naughty chickens that won't go into the coop at night that is having issues. If we can keep them all safe, we should be enjoying some eggs in early spring. I can't wait. Our family eats at least a dozen eggs a day. On some days, we eat more!
I had a wonderful report concerning our horses recently. They are doing well and the girls have been riding them. I still miss them, but I know that they are happy and healthy. I am sure that until we know for sure if we are moving or staying that we will not be adding any new animals to the farm. It is a quiet season here, but one that I am enjoying.
grace and peace,

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Baking Accomplishments for Thanksgiving

2 pie crusts have been made, wrapped, and placed in the freezer. On Thanksgiving morning, I will take them out of the freezer and let them thaw. Then I will be ready to add homemade pumpkin pie filling and homemade pecan pie filling to them. How easy is that?
6 loaves of chocolate bread cooling on the racks. I quickly wrapped 5 of these delicious goodies and labeled them and placed them in the freezer. I let the little people enjoy one loaf yesterday after school.

4 loaves of Amish Friendship Cinnamon bread. I placed all 4 of these gems in the freezer for later use.

3 dozen pumpkin muffins... These are my kids' favorite muffins! I promptly cooled and froze 2 dozen of them. I will let the little people enjoy the other dozen for today.

2 loaves of banana nut bread still baking in the oven. After making a orange glaze, these too will also join the rest of the bread tucked away in the freezer.

Now all I have to do is to keep this person and 4 others just like him out of my freezer stash. I am hoping that by giving them a little treat here and there that they will be satisfied until our company arrives! If not, I may be in trouble!!!
grace and peace,